The 2022 NFL calendar is officially moving from the preseason to the start of the regular season. As of 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, every team had to drop their roster size from 80 players down to the in-season limit of 53. That led to over 860 players suddenly seeing their hopes for a 2022 NFL season dashed.
All hope is not lost however as free agent signings, waiver claims, and practice squads are still to be made. Up until noon on Wednesday, teams can put in a waiver claim on a younger player who was part of the final round of roster cuts. That would effectively move the player’s contract over to a new team.
After the noon deadline, teams can begin signing free agent players - which all unclaimed players become at the deadline - to the practice squad. Teams are allowed to sign players to the practice squad starting Wednesday afternoon, giving new life to players who had a bad day on Tuesday.
Also of note, on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, players who are placed on either injured reserve or the non-football injury lists will be allowed to be activated later in the season. Do not be surprised if the Miami Dolphins use this to move some players off the 53-man roster to make roster space for free agent signings or waiver claims.
Practice Squad Size
The NFL will again allow up to 16 players to be on each team’s practice squad, up from 10 just three years ago. In 2020, the league and the NFL Players Association came to an agreement to expand the practice squad to 12 players, then that was changed to 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That 16-man practice squad limit continues into the 2022 season.
The league in 2020 also adjusted the rules for who can be on the practice squad. Those adjustments saw some updates this year. The practice squad may have:
- Players with no NFL experience (zero accrued seasons)
- Players who were active for fewer than nine games during their only accrued season
- Up to ten players may have no more than two accrued seasons
- Up to six players may be signed without any limitation on earned seasons
-Note: The limit of 10 players with more than two accrued seasons includes the six players with no limits on the number of accrued seasons.
Teams are allowed to poach players of another team’s practice squad if they are signing them to the active roster. A team can sign a player from their next upcoming opponent’s practice squad, but it must be done six days before the game, or 10 days if it is during the bye week. Teams can also protect up to four players on their practice squad to prevent them from being poached - though that goes into effect on Tuesday each week, so a player a teams wants to protect could still get signed by another team on Monday.
Starting in 2020, the league added a new rule for practice squad players, making them eligible to appear in a game without having to be signed to the active roster. Two practice squad players per week were allowed to be elevated to the active roster for game day, then reverted back to the practice squad immediately following the game. This year, the league adjusted the elevation system from a maximum of two times an individual player could be elevated to three times. After that, the player has to be added to the 53-man roster if the team wants to use him in a game.
Younger practice squad players are set to make $11,500 a week this year, while players with over two years of experience in the league will have a weekly salary of $15,400. That equates to $207,00 or $277,200 for the 18 week regular season. That salary is not guaranteed, meaning a practice squad player can be released at any time, and the salary does count against a team’s salary cap.